I won’t always be car free, but I have been for the past two weeks. I thought that since today is the start of a new month, I’d take the opportunity to recap what it has been like to be without a car for the longest period of my life since my freshman year of college many, many moons ago.
The short answer? Not bad at all. There were surprises, both good and bad, but overall the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Without putting too fine a point on it, I would go so far as to say that it has been affirming and life changing. There’s something very powerful and liberating about discovering that you really can choose your own outcomes. Here are my takeaways..
1. Change is hard.
It’s not easy to make big life changes, even when they’re good changes that we want to make…even when we love what we’re doing. There was a learning curve and that squeamish feeling that sometimes accompanies such change. There was also that gut-busting hill back to the house that made me want to cry. It was there every single ride, but it got easier the more I rode it. Now it’s nothing…really. There was the “what do I do with my helmet while shoppping?” moment. Answer? I wear it! Fortunately, it was all normal in a matter of days. The upside of change? What once was uncomfortable quickly becomes normal, and we are better as a result.
2. We are not alone.
There are vehicular cyclists everywhere. Sure, it helps to have a mayor who rides to city hall every day, but it’s more than just that. There are a lot of us and we’re all riding for different reasons. Some of us can’t afford the ongoing operating and maintenance costs associated with motor vehicles. Others are respecting the environment by making a conscious choice to reduce the amount of fuel they burn. Some recognize their rewards in other ways. We sometimes make others uncomfortable about their choices and, as a result, they act out against us. Like it or not, we are challenging the status quo. I like it. The status quo needs to be challenged.
3. We create opportunities while biking that we would miss in a car.
As I was riding home from Hastings Books last Saturday afternoon, I passed by the old Wansgards store at 2nd and Washington and noticed this neglected bicycle rack. When I got home I sent an email to the parent company in Idaho asking if they’d be willing to donate the rack so that we could put it to good use. I wouldn’t have seen the rack if I’d been in a car. I’ll let you know what they say if and when they get back to me.
I’m not done with cars, at least not yet, but it’s nice to know that I no longer “need” one. The genie is out of the bottle and he/she/it is not going back in. I now know with certainty that the day is coming when I won’t own a car any longer. I don’t know when that day will be, but it just might be sooner rather than later. I’ll know when it’s time. In the meantime, I plan to bike more and car less.